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n4                HISTORY OF PERSIA                CHAP.
able and desirable city of Jerusalem/' they travelled via
Naples to Syracuse and Southern Greece, and so to
Ephesus, whence they proceeded, mainly by land, to
Cyprus. Their port in Syria was Tortosa, and, walking
inland to Emesa, they were thrown into prison "as
strangers and unknown men/7 A friendly Spaniard,
brother of a chamberlain to the Caliph, took up ^ their
case, and they were summoned to appear before Ycxid IL
On his asking whence they came, they replied, " From the
western shore, where the sun sets, and we know not of
any land beypnd—nothing but water/' So remote were
the British Isles before the discovery of America! The
Caliph upon hearing this exclaimed, " Why punish them ?
They have done no wrong ; set them tree/* By this
journey Willibald, almost forgotten to-day, was the fore-
runner of a mighty movement of conquest*
It will be remembered that in the account of the
reign of Haroun-al-Rashid a reference was made to his
exchange of embassies with Charlemagne, Indeed, no
fewer than three missions visited the great Caliph, who
despatched three return embassies to Europe*1 Again,
during the reign of Mamun, Louis the Pious, son of
Charlemagne, sent an embassy, which brought a response
from Mamun six years later. The concessions obtained
from Haroun gave the Franks a strong position in
Jerusalem, but before the ninth century closed their
quasi-protectorate, as Beazley aptly terms it, passed to
the Byzantines.
- It is hard to realize how deep was the interest taken
by Christendom in pilgrimages during the tenth century,
and from what remote countries the pilgrims came. It is
especially remarkable that in A.D. 987 two Icelanders
appear on the scene, first-fruits of the conversion of the
Norsemen with all its far-reaching consequences* In the
eleventh century pilgrimages became common, even
women taking part in them, and the interest of Christendom
grew continually deeper. Suddenly, in A.D. IOIQ, the
mad Fatimite Hakim Biamrillah, who has already been
mentioned, destroyed the buildings of the Holy Sepulchre,
1 Dawn of Geography, vol ». p, uo*